Archives for October 2016

Walk this way | Tips for creating a weekly walking group

Walking.

One of the simplest ways to start moving towards your health and fitness goals. All you need is a good pair of running shoes. No gym membership required.

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I have another pair that matches these perfectly 😉

In addition to simply getting you moving more, regular brisk walking has many health benefits including:

  • strengthening muscles and bones
  • improving weight loss and weight loss maintenance
  • reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke
  • enhancing mood
  • reducing stress and
  • improving sleep

Hmm, these all sound like familiar ‘symptoms’ of perimenopause, don’t they….

Because I like to multi-task, my preferred way of walking is with a group. Combining exercise with the camaraderie of friends (and their canine companions). My weekly walking group gets together nearly every single Friday to chat, walk or hike, confess, listen and lift each other up. Kind of like my beloved group fitness classes.

It’s like a combined workout and therapy session all in one :-). I never fail to leave a Friday hike without a smile on my face and a spring in my step (except for maybe after that epic South Beach hike that was pretty much vertical the entire way…).

Interested in creating your own weekly walking group (or other fitness-themed group if walking’s not your jive)? Here are some tips that have helped our group stick together for over a year now.

Tips for creating a weekly walking group
  • start spreading the word; identity a handful of women who are likely to be interested in regularly getting together to explore the out-of-doors. These might be friends or colleagues or other moms you’ve noticed heading off to walk the dog after dropping kids at school. Initially, I simply created a Facebook post asking if anybody was interested in getting together once a week to walk or hike the local trails. Encourage your friends to ask their friends and so on. This is a great way to meet people you many not yet have crossed paths with.

 

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  • create a virtual ‘meeting’ place to post outing details; for our group, the obvious choice was a private Facebook group (we were already on Facebook and used it regularly), but you might choose to communicate via email or a local ‘Meet up’ website. The important thing is to have a place to share details of upcoming outings that isn’t visible to the general public. Especially if your outings are to places that are remote or ‘off the beaten path’. We also use our Facebook group to RSVP for each outing. That way nobody gets left behind if they’re running a few minutes late 🙂

 

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  • establish a regular schedule; having a regular day and time for your weekly meet up will make it easier to organize, as well as making it more likely that you’ll get a good turn-out. You might decide on the day and time as a group, or include the option that works best for you and a few others in the initial invitation. After a year of walking together, many of the women in my group have started scheduling their other activities around our Friday morning walks.

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  • consider the fitness level of participants; depending on the size of your group, it’s likely that your members will vary in their fitness levels. Take care to consider the fitness level of your participants when choosing weekly outings. While it’s okay to tackle a challenging hike from time to time, know that if every walk is a forced march you’re likely to lose some of your less fit members. Because the focus of our group is on friendship, fun and fitness, we tend to opt for less challenging routes; hikes that allow us to bring the dogs, walk two abreast and chat the entire way.

 

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  • encourage everybody to take a turn suggesting an outing; just because you’ve brought the group together doesn’t mean that you’re responsible for each week’s agenda. Our group takes turns suggesting locations for our weekly hikes. Not only does this keep the group from becoming ‘work’ for you, it also provides the opportunity for members to share their favourite trails; trails that other members of the group may not even be aware of. Though this group I ‘discovered’ a handful of local trails that I’d never stumbled upon before. New trails to share with my family on our weekend walking adventures.

 

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And, unless you don’t mind photos that are slightly askew, you might want to invest in a selfie-stick. Not every great viewpoint has the perfect place to prop your smart phone against…. 🙂

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Reverse-engineering | a strategy for reaching your fitness goals

A few weeks back a friend asked me how I was doing with my ’50 before 50′ list (the list of 50 experiences, goals and tasks I’m planning on accomplishing before my 50th birthday).

Not surprisingly, I’ve crossed off many of the ‘fun’ items on my list.

Backcountry camping trip with the boys. Check.

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Getting my first tattoo. Check.

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Going on a wine-tasting tour with my sisters. Check.

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Experiencing a hot stone massage. Check. (I was so relaxed I neglected to ask the masseuse to take a photo. That’s probably a good thing, right?).

Yet the four goals in my ‘fitness’ category sit untouched. Probably because they require much more preparation than simply calling the spa and showing up 🙂

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I started thinking about how I was going to reach those goals by next June.

When the deadline for a good is a long way off it’s easy to postpone getting started. And then panic when the deadline gets close. (I bet you’ve been there before too…).

Yet all four of them require regular, consistent training if I want to reach them in time and injury-free.

My youngest son’s obsession with increasing the range of his Nerf guns gave me a strategy for reaching my fitness goals.

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He spent much of the summer amassing a Nerf artillery, not for the purpose of harassing his older brother, but because he wanted to know how they worked and whether there was a way to make them work better (i.e. shoot farther).

He discovered that the best way to figure out how to build something is to take it apart.

Start with the final product, disassemble into smaller and smaller pieces and put it back together. It’s an approach known as ‘reverse engineering’ and one that can easily be used as a strategy to reach your fitness goals.

Reverse-engineer your health and fitness goals
  • Start with where you want to be. This is your goal. It might be a fitness event (like running a 5 or 10K), it might be a specific exercise accomplishment (like my 5 unassisted pull-ups), it might be a macronutrient goal (like eating 40/30/30 carbs/protein/fat), it might be a workout schedule (like 5 days of exercise per week).
  • Break down the goal into ‘mini-goals’, steps you’ll need to reach before you can reach your final goal. For example, walking a 5K, performing 1 unassisted pull-up, getting 20% of your daily calories from protein, exercising 3 days per week.
  • If the mini-goals still seem too big, repeat the step above. Continue breaking down your end goal until you’ve reached a mini-goal that you can consistently meet. For example, alternating 1 min walking and running intervals for 15 minutes, performing 2 sets of 5 band-assisted pull-ups, eating protein at breakfast time, exercising 2 days per week. Hint: the smaller the mini-goal, the more likely you’ll reach it. Small steps repeated over time lead to big change.
  • Work towards the next mini-goal. Once you’ve consistently met your ‘first step’ mini-goals, set the bar a little higher.

I’m currently using the ‘reverse engineering’ approach to help me get back to my goal of eating 5-7 servings of veggies per day (I’ve been battling the call of comfort food for the past 11 months and am yearning to get back that energetic and ‘clear’ feeling good nutrition gives me).

I know that going from where I am (2 servings on a good day) to where I want to get to (7 servings each and everyday) requires building new habits. My experience with habit formation tells me that trying to do it all at once is unlikely to be successful. So I’ve reverse engineered the process.

This week, I’ve replaced my lunchtime panini (high on carbs, low on veggies) with a salad. Two servings of veggies at lunch, with a serving of healthy fats and lots of protein.

Once I’ve got this habit well established I’ll go back to adding vegetables to my breakfasts. Cutting back on those pancake mornings and re-introducing veggies to my eggs.

The final step will be to replace the pre-dinner glass of wine with fresh raw vegetables. Something to munch on while I prep dinner for the family and catch up with my husband’s day.

Do you have current health and fitness goals that might benefit from a reverse engineering approach?

What’s one small step you could make towards those goals today?

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